It was just a normal round of golf last summer for Garry Kerr and his 7-year-old son, Ellis.
And then it wasn’t.
On the 10th tee of their home course, Haverhill Golf Club, outside of Cambridge, England, a golf ball from parts unknown came flying toward them. No “fore!” was heard. Eventually, the golfer with the errant missile appeared and apologized.
Seconds later, a man in the offender’s group pitched forward into some bushes.
“Stay where you are!” Kerr told his son as he ran over to check on the man, who was unconscious and turning blue with what would later be determined as a massive heart attack. Kerr didn’t want his son to be traumatized.
Ellis didn’t listen. He took off running toward the closest golfing group, urging them to call for help, while his dad began administering CPR. Garry Kerr worked on the man for 20 minutes before paramedics arrived and he was transported by helicopter to the hospital.
The quick work of father and son made all the difference. The man — 69-year-old Mick Carter, who represented Great Britain as a boxer in the 1968 Olympics — ended up having triple-bypass heart surgery and is back playing golf.
“It feels amazing to save a man’s life,” Ellis, now 8, said Tuesday after he’d played his first round ever in the IMG Academy Junior World Championships. He’s competing in the Boys 7-8 Division on the Sycuan Oak Glen Course.
Added Ellis’ dad: “He’s proud of what we did. A couple of weeks afterward, I made a point of getting back on the golf course. Once we got that hole out of the way, he was fine. The first couple of times I think he was nervous thinking about it.”
Twelve weeks after the incident, the Kerr and Carter families had a reunion at the golf club.
Joked Garry Kerr to Carter: “You look better than the last time I saw you.”
Later, Carter removed the cuff links that he received at the Olympics and gave them to Kerr. Carter also learned that day that Kerr had taken a CPR class 10 years earlier because his own father died of a heart attack at 60.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Carter told a Cambridge television station. “I mean, I feel fantastic now, a lot better. I just wanted to thank them.
“It was all a bit emotional, and they’re such a lovely family.”
Since that meeting, the Kerrs and Carter have played a round together at Haverhill. They even paused for a photo near the spot where Carter collapsed.
“I think it probably put a few ghosts to bed for him, as well,” Garry Kerr said.
Ellis Kerr didn’t make it to Junior World for his heroism. He has become a formidable junior golfer in England and won both of the Junior World qualifiers in which he played. He took up golf at Haverhill when he was 4.
Asked what he has enjoyed about his first Junior World experience, Ellis said, “Making new friends from all over the world.”
The father and son have traveled to play, among other courses, St. Andrews in Scotland and Celtic Manor in Wales. Ellis wears a Rickie Fowler-style Puma hat, and Garry successfully pitched the name Lexi to his wife, Hayley, for their daughter who is now 2.
“For (American LPGA player) Lexi Thompson,” Garry said. “My wife didn’t know that at the time.”
Beyond golf, Ellis spends much of the year playing soccer, and the Kerrs happened to be in the U.S. during England’s run into the semifinals of the World Cup.
With the game against Croatia being played while Ellis had to be on the golf course, the Kerrs were hoping to have a news blackout and watch it later. This wasn’t going to be a happy ending, with England being eliminated 2-1 in extra time.
Before the result, Garry Kerr said, “All the years that we’ve expected to do better than they have, and then we weren’t expecting anything and this is what they do. If it continues, we’ll be watching on Sunday in San Diego.”
Not to be, but they always have the zoo.